Ichimatsu ningyo (Ichimatsu dolls) (市松人形)

Ichimatsu ningyo is a kind of fashion dolls. It is also called Azuma ningyo (Azuma doll) and Kyo ningyo (Kyo doll) and is fondly referred to as "Ichimasan" in the Keihan area (Kyoto-Osaka area).

Ichimatsu ningyo, which consists of a head and limbs made from the mixture of sawdust of paulownia wood and wheat starch, or from wood, painted with a white pigment made from oyster shells (or that made from clam shells), connected to a body made from a sawdust-stuffed cloth, is sold naked and the purchaser makes its costume.

It was used as a toy for girls as well as for practice of sewing. It ranges in size from as small as 20 centimeters to larger than 80 centimeters, but it is generally around 40 centimeters high. There are girl and boy dolls, and the girl doll has a bobbed hair transplanted and the hair of the boy doll is drawn with a brush.

There are three widely held explanations regarding the origin of the name of Ichimatsu ningyo; the name came from Ichimatsu SANOGAWA, a kabuki actor in the mid- Edo period, who resembles the doll in its face, the name carries the connotation of the doll for kids whose prevailing name at that time was 'Ichimatsu,' and it was named so because it was sold with a checkered pattern costume.

When people referred to 'doll' in Edo, they almost always meant Ichimatsu ningyo, but it was gradually replaced by dolls made of celluloid and soft vinyl and came to be used for ornamental purpose. Because of it, some Ichimatsu ningyo made for ornamental purpose cannot change their outfits. After the doll was given to the U.S. as a friendship doll in 1927, it temporarily gained popularity, but it could not make a comeback as a toy.

Most of the currently marketed Ichimatsu ningyo consist of a head made from gypsum and a body made from polyurethane to be placed next to hina doll (a doll displayed at the Girls' Festival). The doll of this type is a standing statue fixed onto a pedestal and its outfit cannot be changed. Ichimatsu ningyo which can sit down and change the clothes is produced and sold by professional doll makers as traditional crafts.

[Original Japanese]